PhD syndrome in women: myth or fact?

THOSE in the know will tell you that PhD in this case stands for Pull Her Down and this is often the subject of talk shows and magazine articles. Basically the argument is that women don’t generally support each other and like crabs trapped in a bucket, when one tries to climb out and is almost at the top, the others pull it down. Some women say they receive more encouragement and support from male counterparts rather than women. It has also been noted that in some developing countries an increased number of women in top positions has not necessarily advanced the empowerment of other women. I am inclined to say it’s a myth for the following reasons. When dealing with women’s issues it’s easy to assume women are a homogenous group. All women are supposed to be nice people and they all want to be saved from something. It’s been an awakening for me over the years to realise that this is not the case. There are women who hold down little girls so that someone can mutilate their genitals, others force their daughters into prostitution and still others turn a blind eye when they know their child is being sexually abused. So if a woman is not supportive of your project or is mean at work, that’s because there are many different types of women. Not all women want to be saved either. In one study of abused women some said they would rather stay in an abusive relationship than give the man up to another woman. So we have to accept the fact that women are very different and some are going to be supportive and others not. For the record, the same is true for men. Many men are kind, faithful, hardworking and supportive but a few bad apples give the male species a bad name. There are also many factors which affect why a woman is or is not supportive. Women who are comfortable with where they are and where they are going are not afraid to support others. But where there is insecurity, fear and envy then a woman may find it easy to sabotage others at work or withhold their support, even when they can easily make a difference. So in a way, because of all the historical injustices against women, there may be more who are fearful, insecure and envious. In one of the women’s fora in August, one participant said we mustn’t be too hard on ourselves. “Power is alien to many women,” she said and now that we are just beginning to experience it, the PhD syndrome is bound to crop up here and there. I sometimes find it boils down to personal energy. There are people, both men and women that you will gel with and with others, it’s just not there. There may also be a good reason for the women’s apparent negative attitude. Maybe they genuinely don’t need that product or service which you are offering and the same response from a man would not be seen as PhD. However those who intentionally practice PhD may do well to remember one of Deepak Chopra’s laws from his book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success which is readily available and makes interesting reading. The law of giving — His point is we must give that which we are seeking in order to attract the things we want in life. Well, I give here and there you might say, so why am I not getting the things I want in life? Giving is not always in material terms. If you are looking for success and recognition, have you enabled someone else to be successful and recognised? This can be something simple such as telling the store manager about a till operator who consistently gives good service. Or giving someone contact details or an idea that will help them solve a pressing problem. It’s up to us women to be honest with ourselves and practice self-awareness. When we make a decision about another woman or when we interact with each other, let it be from a position of strength and not fear and insecurity. afrikarizma@gmail.com

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